Saturday, March 28, 2009

a poverty of expectations - countered

A friend made on facebook came by to watch our swim meet the other day. He's a really cool guy and also grew up with a fellow McLane teacher and friend of mine (rhea).

Sometimes it just takes someone observing from the outside to help spur positive thinking. He commented how he was amazed that our kids struggle to get a 2.0, aren't motivated to... win... and often miss practice for strange excuses, don't have the money to get proper equipment (goggles, swim suits...), and don't really even have a basic knowledge of sports nutrition (not drinking water the day of a swim meet).

One thing I reminded him (and me) is that I really am struggling against a huge cultural change. I come from and expect to be able to demand a culture that has high standards for school, for COMMITMENT, for sport. I think that sure, they won't want to work hard in practice - that's my job to make them - but that they won't quit when I do push them. I am so proud of the current swim team who for the most part responds to this and tries to work in practice... but still, at meets the drive for competition just isn't quite there - Yet. That, and swimming/water polo/triathlons aren't exactly popular culturally in the populations that we serve - another Yet. :-)

It would be an understatement to say a defeatist attitude pervades many of our students.

I've always tried to use sports as a way to undercut that attitude and show the kids there is something more. We do that by enforcing rules like you miss three practices, you don't Letter. Miss the day before a meet, don't swim/play polo, etc. But low-income doesn't really refer to money, it refers to mindset.

I don't want to be a complainer any more (in just a minute). I don't want to enable my kids and make excuses for them or for myself. I just want to get in there and treat them the way they need to.

But before I get all happy, my top 5 things that bug me in students:

1) Drug use
2) the F word/sexual stuff
3) babies having babies
4) lack of motivation to do anything
5) sneakiness (Gabe^4)

when kids are cussing a bunch my heart just kinda sinks. plus i never cussed really ever until becoming a teacher and now something'll slip out every so often. just disappointing not so much because i'm actually cussing but because it means the negative slipped through my defenses. This swim season (and night school being done!) has been really great for me especially as I've been able to get back in the pool on my own and even getting back in shape.

This Friday night (the 27th) I took 11 kids out to the local park to go riding and running! Those that rode (we switched off bikes and running) did about 14 miles including some nice hills and they really enjoyed it. For all but 4 it was their first time running or riding with me. I wouldn't call them all triathletes but some of them were just kids in my class who surprised me by saying they wanted to come with us. So they drove themselves and ran. (note: COMBINED GPA of those three kids is about 2.0 right now... so getting them involved in anything is great!). Good times. Today and tomorrow I'll be frying myself in the sun as I hopefully complete lifeguard instructor training...


Sports Endurance Enthusiast said...

Did you take your kids out to do a duathlon? Such an inspiration....

Brandon said...

our first tri of the year will probably be millerton in 2 weeks or the Icebreaker triathlon the following day up in Sacramento.